I went to Search for A Better Life in Saudi Arabia, I Came back With Broken Spine.

The frequency of instances involving the humiliation and harassment of Kenyan women in Arab countries is on the rise, with a considerable number losing their lives, particularly those employed as househelps. The situation remains perplexing, as there are individuals who seem content while others endure suffering. Mary’s story serves as a poignant illustration of the challenges faced by these women.

Like many others, Mary Wanjiru left Kenya in pursuit of a better life, aiming to alleviate the poverty conditions in her home. However, her aspirations took a tragic turn when she was pushed off a balcony in Riyadh, resulting in severe injuries.

Mary, a mother of three, was initially striving to support her mother and siblings. A friend facilitated her journey to Saudi Arabia, assisting with the necessary paperwork for employment as a House Manager or Househelp.

Initially, Mary’s employer appeared amicable, but within two months, the situation deteriorated, and she began experiencing mistreatment. Isolated from family and friends, she found herself cut off from essential connections. Adding to her plight, her employer withheld her first month’s salary, asserting that the agency that recruited her had incurred significant expenses.

On the 17th of June, Mary’s boss attempted to compel her to participate in prayers. When she resisted, he callously pushed her off the second floor. The fall resulted in severe injuries, including a broken spinal cord. Amidst excruciating pain, she was coerced into signing documents she could not comprehend, leading to the withdrawal of her case.

During her hospitalization, two Arab patients learned about Mary’s ordeal and connected her with fellow Kenyans residing in the Gulf. The Kenyan community in the Gulf rallied together to support her cause. With their assistance, Mary managed to navigate the bureaucratic processes, secure the necessary funds for her journey back home, and return to Kenya, albeit physically impaired due to the broken spine. Currently, she resides in her village home in Jawatho, undergoing home medication. To manage her condition, she incurs a cost of 1500 every two weeks for the changing of her urinary catheter.